When Philip Cooper proposed to Phillips Demming, he didn’t have a ring. “I knew she was an expert on jewelry and rings, so when I proposed to her, I also proposed that she help me find the perfect engagement ring,” he explains. Phillips spent the next three months designing her dream sparkler featuring a blue diamond for the center stone, selected by the groom. Once the ring was complete, they announced their engagement.

Only four months were spent planning the Chicago wedding, and Beth Bernstein of SQN Events was hired to help take care of the logistics. Though Philip, his parents, and the mother of the bride were all involved in the process, Phillips was largely free to do what she envisioned for the big day. For the groom, the most important thing was to have a Catholic ceremony. The couple was able to find a priest who would officiate at the luxury hotel, rather than a church.

When the September evening arrived, personal touches were evident throughout the service. White roses were used for the bridesmaid bouquets and the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, because Philip’s grandmother was known to love the simple bloom. Phillips had a glamorous twist for her arrangement, opting for a glamelia bouquet, which showcases petals arranged to look like one large blossom. Designed with an ombré style, the composite flower started with a peach hue in the center and faded outward to ivory. “Since I refurbish vintage jewelry, I made all the pieces for the wedding party and myself from vintage components,” the bride shares. She also made cuff links, a French-cuffed Oxford shirt, and a charcoal grey tuxedo made for their beloved Chihuahua, Nigel Barker. Instead of tossing petals, the flower girls handed out white roses to the guests.

Soon after being pronounced husband and wife, it was time for the second big moment for the newlyweds: their first dance. The couple had been taking ballroom dance lessons for a while and started private classes three months before the wedding. Their instructor developed a routine that incorporated steps from the foxtrot and the rumba to go with the a capella arrangement of “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You” arranged by Boyce Avenue, originally by NSYNC. “Right before the wedding, Phillips asked me if I was nervous about anything. I told her, ‘Only the first dance,’” admits Philip. “But our hard work and practice paid off. We nailed the dance!” Their instructor also provided a half-hour lesson to any of the guests who wanted to learn – the dance floor overflowed with participants. That wasn’t the only performance of the reception. The woman who introduced the couple did a traditional Indian dance later on in the night. “Dance was a really important feature of our wedding and it kept the celebration going – there was never a dull moment!” shares the groom.

Just like the ceremony, the reception space was adorned with white florals. Grey linens and chairs went with the city-style look of the day, which was all beautifully photographed by Studio This Is. Even the guests wore dark neutrals to fit within the vision of the celebration. The cake was a major focal point, standing out despite matching the color scheme of the room. The five-tier confection had two layers each with houndstooth or argyle patterns, to match the groom’s ensemble. The center layer was adorned with the skyline of Chicago. A floating ribbon separated each section, with a matching bow on top so the cake resembled a deliciously wrapped present. Additionally, guests were treated to towers of both Champagne and donuts.

For couples planning their own big day, Phillips advises having brides and grooms pick the three things they consider “must-haves” for the wedding. “There are no battles to fight if you already know what’s important to each person,” she reveals. For her, it was having her dog in the ceremony, designing a stunning cake, and playing a special song while she walked down the aisle: “I’ll Cover You” from the musical Rent. For the groom, hiring a planner, having a Catholic priest officiate, and offering donuts were all necessary factors. They worked with each other to create the perfect day to start their journey through life, together.